Focus on careers in construction during National Apprenticeship Week

WASHINGTON, D.C., Nov. 8, 2020 —Apprenticeships are a key part of Associated Builders and Contractors’ commitment to an all-of-the-above approach for developing a safe, skilled and productive workforce that meets the current and future needs of the construction industry. During the U.S. Department of Labor’s Apprenticeship Week, Nov. 8-14, ABC celebrates the value of earn-while-you-learn opportunities for women, minorities, veterans, students, non-graduates and people laid off during the pandemic or seeking new careers, re-entry to the workforce or a second chance.

“Recruiting, educating and upskilling our workforce is a strategic goal for ABC, and an essential component of supporting our most important asset—our people,” said Greg Sizemore, ABC’s vice president of health, safety, environment and workforce development. “Apprenticeships are a key part of the education contractor members provide to their employees to ensure the industry is continually adapting, innovating and ready to get to work.”

Despite the economic upheaval caused by the COVID-19 recession, ABC of Wisconsin added more than 400 apprentices this year and is currently educating roughly 1,500 apprentices. Also, 40% of ABC member contractors are hiring, according to the latest ABC Construction Confidence Index. Although many construction projects were delayed or canceled as the recession reverberated through state and local economies, member contractors responded quickly to the challenges, changing how work is planned and executed, retooling safety and health protocols to protect workers on jobsites. Apprenticeships continue full speed ahead, with a variety of opportunities for people from all backgrounds and education levels.

Here are some things to consider regarding construction apprenticeships:

  • Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) of Wisconsin has nearly 1,400 apprentices who combine structured, on-the-job training with paid-related classroom instruction at 11 Wisconsin public technical colleges.
  • The program offers 12 trades, including carpentry, concrete finishing, construction craft laborer, electrical, heat & frost insulating, heavy equipment operating, HVAC, plumbing, roofing, sprinkler fitting, sheet metal and steamfitting.
  • The program added roughly 400 new apprentices in July, which nearly set a record, despite COVID-19.
  • The median wages for the newly-graduated construction journey workers – aggregate of all trades in Wisconsin – is roughly $80,000.
  • Tuition in the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) of Wisconsin Apprenticeship program is about $2,000 each year, which includes books and administrative fees. If you consider most apprentices don’t have to relocate for school, the entire education has a low-price tag of $6,000 to $10,000 to become an in-demand journey person whose wages will far exceed the typical college graduate. Compare this with the typical college graduate in Wisconsin coming out with more than $30,000 in debt and having invested $80,000 minimum in a degree.
  • The ABC of Wisconsin Apprenticeship Advisory Committee operates construction apprenticeship training programs, which are recognized by the state Department of Workforce Development’s Bureau of Apprenticeship Standards.
  • Learn more at https://buildyourcareerwi.org/
  • For stories about apprentices and apprenticeship training companies, visit our Money Jobs micro-series, hosted by former Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch at https://www.abcwi.org/moneyjobs
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